Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams
Jenny: You have no idea how boring everything was before I met you.
A 16 year old girl, Jenny (Mulligan), is bored with her sheltered school life that seems to be leading her towards a future of academia, studying, etc. When she meets David (Sarsgaard), she’s introduced to a more exciting, cultural life that threatens to persuade her to leave school and marry David.
I really thought I’d enjoy this more than I did. Carey Mulligan is as good as advertised, but I have to admit, her character just wasn’t all that likable at times. She acts better than everyone and says some hurtful things to people who are just trying to look out for her own good. Of course, she is 16, so that kind of behavior shouldn’t be a surprise. I just wish they’d have written her as a little more charming.
All of the performances are on a high level, even down to David’s friends, Danny (Dominic Cooper) and the aggravatingly dense Helen (Rosamund Pike). Helen is what Jenny could become if she forgoes Oxford and seeks an adventurous life with David: interested in money, fashion, and fancy dining, but with no real self worth.
That’s the big crossroads that Jenny stands at in the movie, but that’s also the biggest problem I had with it. The fun, adventurous life that she’s presented with just doesn’t seem all that fun or magical to the viewer. It’s dull. Or at least it’s shown in a dull way. Even Paris doesn’t look all that interesting. Plus, David and his friends aren’t particularly charming or interesting either. Jenny seems to have more enjoyable conversations with her classmates. There needed to be a more stark contrast is style between life with David and life at school and with her parents. There needed to be more of an allure present in the scenes with David and his friends. There were a couple of moments, in a fancy nightclub and viewing a beautiful sunset, that worked well, but for the most part, it was all too drab to be such a charming alternative to her normal life.
This undermined the major conflict in the film. The choice seemed to be between a life with some dull, dishonest schemers, and a life of schooling that, considering her high intelligence, could lead to a great career in any number of areas. For a girl with her maturity, the choice seemed pretty clear to me. Then again, I’m not a 16 year old girl…
Overall, the major problems I had with it could have been solved via some more inspired direction. Amping up the magical allure of this new life she’s introduced to would have made it a whole different movie to me. As is…blah.
Jenny complains at one point about how boring everything in England is. I couldn’t help but think, “yeah, even the movies.”
Educated doesn’t necessarily mean bored and unhappy…
10 – 3.3 for the dullness and the fact that the fun, magical life isn’t very exciting looking – .7 for some obvious, typical plot developments + .4 for some good performances all around = 6.4